While Manchester United did well to beat West Ham 2-1 on Sunday, another matchday highlighted how much the team needed a new center midfielder.
While Scott McTominay played brilliantly, Fred was a regular source of errant passes and badly timed challenges. If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side is to compete for trophies, they will need to improve their box-to-box talent.
While Rice is a fantastic footballer, there are players of comparable ability who would be considerably more available and even cheaper in the next transfer windows for Man United.
Milan's Franck Kessie
Man United may already be looking elsewhere for midfield reinforcements, according to sources in Spain, and have reportedly identified Milan star Franck Kessie as a possible answer to their issues.
While some have likened Kessie to Paul Pogba, his box-to-box tendencies and ability to win the ball back and initiate attacks from a deep-lying position make him more like Rice.
The fact that his current contract with Milan expires at the end of the season makes the Ivorian star even more enticing, as Man Utd may sign him for free in the summer or for a reduced cost in January.
Dortmund's Jude Bellingham
Man United would be better off spending their money on the man who would most likely be competing with Rice for a position in the England squad for the next five or ten years, rather than on Rice.
Although Jude Bellingham was previously on the Old Trafford club's radar as a Birmingham City potential, Man Utd can no longer dismiss or deny the player he is fast becoming. While the Dortmund midfielder may cost as much as Rice next summer or the next year, he has just as much potential and might wind up being a better box-to-box player than his West Ham counterpart.
Leicester City's Youri Tielemans
Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans is another possible transfer target who would make considerably more sense for Man Utd.
Tielemans, like Rice, has been igniting the Premier League with his ability to stop counter-attacks while also sparking his own team's attacks with relative ease. Unlike Rice, though, the Belgian international is unlikely to command a price since he isn't English.
With his contract set to expire in 2023, Man Utd could be able to sign the midfielder for a fraction of what Rice would cost, despite the fact that he is just as good a player.
Tottenham's Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg
While he may not be the most remarkable name linked with a transfer to United, Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Pierre-Emil Hojbjerg is one of the Premier League's most underappreciated box-to-box players and would definitely fit well in Solskjaer's midfield.
Despite the fact that the Denmark international just joined Spurs in 2020, he may already be too good for the team as they fight for another top-six finish. Even if Daniel Levy's negotiating skills were included, Hojbjerg would still be a fraction of the price of Rice while providing just as much talent in the center of the field.
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